Before You Say “I Quit!”:
How to Avoid Homeschool Burnout
Written by Erin Kaufman
We have all had “those” kind of days homeschooling. You know the kind I mean; everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong. All it takes is one really difficult day to start us wondering if this homeschooling thing is actually possible. Did we make the wrong decision to do this? Is there a better way? Can we take one more day of this? Before we get to this level let’s put a strategy in place so we can avoid the dreaded state of homeschool burnout.
Know why you are homeschooling. Do you know exactly why you homeschool? Is it just because homeschooling is a better option for your children than going to school, or do you have a bigger purpose behind it? Knowing this purpose is a must when you come to those days where it feels hopeless. For our family we have religious, academic, and financial reasons that we homeschool. Knowing that we have a goal and a purpose in our homeschool makes the hard days easier to get through.
Concentrate on character issues. This is one of the most important aspects of truly educating our children. It is the biggest reason classroom teachers are unable to effectively teach a room full of children: they all have character issues that need to be dealt with, but no one has the “time”. If your child is struggling with defiance, or self-control, or laziness, or any other of those type of issues, I highly suggest you stop your regular schooling and address them. Children battling these character issues are so much hard to teach, hence homeschooling becomes more challenging. You will not be doing your children (or yourself) any favors by ignoring them. Take time to address them and this will dramatically help your homeschool as well.
Know when it is time to change curriculum. Usually a few bad days will spark thoughts of changing curriculum. But we need to be careful with this. Is the curriculum really the problem? Can it be tweaked? Is the problem more of a character issue than a curriculum problem? That is not to say there is never reason to change curriculum. Sometimes we find a curriculum choice just doesn’t work with the type of learner we are teaching. Then it may be time to change. But otherwise, don’t jump to conclusions assuming you need new curriculum. Nothing stresses me out more than curriculum hunting…not something you want to add onto your plate if you are already struggling.
Take time for yourself. Homeschooling can be a very stressful job! Not only are you working all day as a teacher, you also have your students with you 24 hours a day! As much as I love and enjoy homeschooling, I need a break once in a while. Find an outlet for yourself. Maybe this can be a coffee night with friends, or a night away with your hubby, or a Bible study. Whatever you enjoy doing, find time to do it. You and your children will be much happier if you have time to relax and refresh from the stress that homeschooling can cause at times.
Find a strong support system. Do you want to be surrounded with people who aren’t necessarily supportive of homeschooling at a time when you are struggling with it? No! You need to surround yourself with like-minded people who can talk you through difficult times and show you how to make it better. Even if you don’t have a real-life support system there are so many online communities that can be of help. Homeschool forums and Facebook groups are a fantastic way to find the encouragement you need.
Know that you can’t do it all. There are times when you just can’t get everything done that you want to get done…and that is OK! I think as homeschoolers we get concerned with how our child’s education compares to his peers in school. I know I struggle with always wanting to add more to our school subjects. But there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do! Many times with children, less is more. Do what you can do to the best of your ability and let the rest go. How many times do you actually remember finishing an entire textbook in school? Very rarely. So don’t stress out if you don’t finish everything.
Put things in perspective. Have you ever had a job, or known anyone with a job, that has not had a bad day here and there? Even those people who adore their jobs can have bad days from time to time. Don’t think just because you had a bad day or two that homeschooling is not meant for you. Not every day will be perfect. Your children will probably not jump out of bed every day begging to do school work. Homeschooling can be difficult at times, just like anything else in life. So is homeschooling always sunshine and lollipops? No, but neither is anything else. Don’t let a few bad days deter you from something you were called to do. In the end, I think we will all find that the good definitely outweighs the bad! So before you even think about saying the words “I quit!” I hope you will consider some of these ways to battle that thought. And then, keep on keepin’ on…you can do it.